Second missing Calif. hiker found alive, safe
(CNN) — On Sunday night, two teenagers called authorities pleading for help after their hike through the Santa Ana Mountains of southern California went awry.
Then their cell phones went dead — meaning that not only were they lost, but so too were their potential saviors.
Their story took a positive turn Wednesday night, when rescuers came across 19-year-old Nicholas Cendoya. But there was no sign of his hiking mate, 18-year-old Kyndall Jack.
Video shot Thursday from helicopters showed Jack first perched precariously on a steep area full of dense brush. A rescuer was by her side, and she was hoisted up to an awaiting helicopter and eventually transported to a local hospital.
“She is alive,” Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Jason Park said.
Park didn’t offer much more than that as he addressed reporters Thursday. He said the teenage girl was “responsive, … she appears to be dehydrated, she’s weak.”
But the fact she survived four days in the wilderness was cause for celebration. Park described her family as “extremely happy” upon hearing about her rescue.
There was similar elation among the search-and-rescue team, which included dozens of volunteer sheriff deputies who surveyed the dangerous terrain looking for signs of life.
“Regardless of how hard they worked or how how tired or how hungry they are, it’s a tremendous victory for them,” Park said.
The ordeal began on Easter, when the two teens set off on trails in part of the Cleveland National Forest located in an unincorporated part of south Orange County.
The pair called the sheriff’s department that night, and deputies responded, believing the hikers were about a mile from their vehicle.
“But their cell phone battery died, and contact was lost,” the department said in a news release.
That set off a frenetic search through an area marked by dense brush and steep terrain.
A big break came Wednesday night, when Cendoya was discovered, but his hiking mate was nowhere in sight.
“He believed they had been separated possibly since Sunday night and has no recall how they got separated,” searcher Michael Boyle told reporters.
Tammi Sharp, a spokeswoman for Mission Hospital, told CNN affiliate KTLA on Thursday that Cendoya was in stable condition.
Jack was found and rescued in an area “adjacent to where Nicholas was found,” Park said. But it wasn’t easy.
“It was very difficult to extract her,” Park said.
A volunteer deputy sheriff involved in the rescue effort “sustained head trauma” after falling 60 feet, the sheriff’s department lieutenant said. Like Jack, he is also being treated at a local hospital.
Orange County Fire Authority Capt. John Muir said one lesson from the ordeal — even with the happy ending — is that hikers should plan first and plan for the worst.
“If you’re going to go hiking, we want you to be safe, we want you to prepare,” he said.